Longfellow Middle School (Berkeley, CA)
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So what is up with behavior problems at Longfellow. We just moved here and our son
came home horrified at the antics that took place in most of his classes.
Kids yelling at the teacher, not respecting their elders, getting kicked out of
class etc... Seems that the teachers spent lots of their time dealing with acting
out students as opposed to teaching... Are there options for him to be in honors
classes to get away from out of control kids or is this the norm for Berkeley?
New to this scene
I was totally shocked that you heard such things about Longfellow.... and I say
this because I teach at Longfellow and it has to be one of the calmest Middle
Schools I have ever worked at (and I spent 5 years teaching in Oakland). This is
my 6th year and I absolutely LOVE my job, my colleagues and the students. I think
what you heard may be limited to one or two classrooms of newer/inexperienced
teachers. The overwhelming number of classrooms are incredibly well managed. Our
students are remarkably well behaved, respectful, tolerant and great allies to one
another. PLEASE come and visit and see for yourself. I think you will find what
you have heard not to be true.
We had the exact same experience in 6th grade last year. My daughter was at a
small public Berkeley school for elementary, and behavior was very much kept in
check; respect was required and expected. At Longfellow she was horrified to have
kids (who knew each other from 5th grade) yelling across the room at each other
while the teacher was teaching, passing snacks around, etc. She was also picked on
by a boy right off the bat. I went in and talked to a counselor in the office.
Within a couple days, several kids were moved out of her class to other classes to
break up that network. She and the bully were brought in separately to write
statements, and then had to read them aloud to each other, talk it out, shake on
it, etc. I must say, given what the Longfellow staff are presented with each year
--over 100 hormone-filled new kids from all over Berkeley, they handle it very,
very well. But they need to know what's going on. Write down names, incidents,
what happened, when, and then go in and talk to Mr. Ramos or Ms. Saddler, or Ms.
Marie or Ms. Rosina...they can help. My daughter has made a ton of friends
(including her bully), took honors math and honors reading, and is very happy at
Longfellow now. But it took some work.
BUSD mom of 3
To answer your question, no, this is not the norm in Berkeley schools and likely
not the norm at Longfellow either. I urge you to make an appointment with the
principal or vice principal and discuss your concerns directly with them, and find
an option that works for your student. You can also speak with a school counselor
if you would like to better understand how counseling support works at your
student's school. They may be able to tell you in general terms how they address
such behavior issues at Longfellow, and how they work with the students to keep
everyone on track. I hope things in your student's class settle down soon.
Middle school mom
Wow, I am surprised and saddened to hear that that is your son's experience, but I
do not think that is the norm at Longfellow at all. Our daughter reports that her
classes are well controlled. We have been impressed with how proactively teachers
take up potential behavioral issues, and encourage the kids to resolve problems
before they arise. I believe that kids may be sent to talk to a counselor if there
are problems in classroom behavior. I think this is a good tactic, allowing the
classroom learning to continue and giving a kid who needs support to get back on
track the time and resources to do that.
Our daughter is a very high achieving student, and has found plenty of opportunity
to be challenged both in math and english.
I am sorry that your son has had a difficult transition. It sounds to me like an
unusual spate of lousy events, and not at all the norm. Longfellow is a great
school, with many great things going on.
Happy Longfellow Parent
I was surprised to see your concerns about rude behavior in your son's classes,
because we consider creating a positive school culture the highest priority at
Longfellow. I have taught there for ten years, two of my own children were/are
proud to attend Longfellow, and I know countless families that are very pleased
with both the emotional environment and the outstanding academic programs at
Longfellow. I suggest that you and your child make an appointment with the
Principal or Assistant Principal immediately to express your concerns so that they
can be promptly addressed.
It's been a few years since I had a kid in BUSD middle school, so
maybe things have changed dramatically. But in my
experience, what you described was not unusual. When I was a parent in
middle school (not Longfellow but another BUSD school), there was a kind
of ''resigned acceptance'' of bad behavior, not just by the teachers
but also by the kids, which I always thought was so sad. Maybe
this was because they were dealing with much worse behavior than just
talking out loud in class and disrespecting the teachers, so they all
decided to pick their battles. I do think it takes someone like you coming
in from out of state or coming from non-public school to notice it though,
because you get kind of innured to it after a few years in BUSD.
Re: Spanish Immersion after 5th grade
I believe Longfellow is the Berkeley middle school where the continuing
Spanish immersion kids go, but I could be wrong. In Contra Costa, Portola is
the feeder for our Spanish immersion kids but their program is in its
infancy, just started this year.
Spanish immersion continues at Longfellow Middle School. You
will need to fill out a new Middle School application and preference form,
like you did when your child entered Kindergarten. Choose Longfellow's
Spanish Immersion when you fill that out.
Berkeley mom of 3
Longfellow Middle School continues the Spanish immersion program through 8th
grade. My son is a 7th grader and he loves it at Longfellow. He is
challenged academically and has made great friends through the sports teams.
My 5th grade daughter will start there next year. Longfellow is a dynamic
caring place. The teachers and administration are responsive and talented.
The parent community is involved. I highly recommend that you check it out.
Longfellow PTA President
There is a BUSD Middle School continuation of the Dual Immersion Program at
Longfellow Middle School. We are currently in our 9th year and have
successfully continued the bilingual development of Berkeley Unified
Students from all three TWI elementary schools and the Thousand Oaks
Bilingual Program. Our program runs from 6th through 8th grade, and then we
help place our graduates in advanced Spanish classes at Berkeley High
You are welcome to visit Longfellow and the Dual Immersion classrooms
Longfellow Teacher Mary Patterson
From what I understand, kids/families who want to continue in TWI through
middle school all attend Longfellow Elementary. All 3 TWI elementary
programs feed into Longfellow, which has a TWI track alongside their regular
program. Our oldest is only in 3rd grade (in a TWI class), but from what I
hear, Longfellow is supposed to have a great program.
longfellow middle school has a well-respected dual emersion spanish-english
program, although some students there are in the english only program. If
you know some families with older kids in the dual emersion program, you
should speak with those families about their middle school choice. The
longfellow community is small and close and supportive with good teachers.
The campus is safe with a big yard and a great auditorium. Sports, music
and other programs are offered. They probably have an open house coming up
at some point that you can check out. My student did not go,through that
program, but has friends who did and those kids are great.
Another BUSD parent
Longfellow....... A Good School?
My son just have been accepted in Longfellow middle school. I do not know
if I should be happy or not. I have heard good and bad things about it. I
would really apreciated any information if your kid goes to this school.
We had a kid at Longfellow from 2007-2009 and we loved it. I was amazed at
how the teachers, counselors, and staff consistently went above and beyond
our expectations. We had a kid with a lot of issues and chose Longfellow
because of its smaller size and we never regretted it. I felt like I
really knew the community there and they really knew us and worked with us
as a family. I could not have imagined teachers so committed to the
success of their students.
My daughter has her heart set on Longfellow, after taking a tour
and feeling how calm the school is... I liked the rigorous
counseling program that's in place, along with the high level of
academics being taught, and focus on the arts. However, we have a
6th grade friend (high-achieving, well-behaved girl, like my
daughter) who is experiencing some bullying. Is your child at
Longfellow? Do they feel safe and able to ''be themselves''?
Please share...I like Willard too, but my daughter really wants to
Want to make the right choice...
My son is like your daughter and he has not experienced bullying
however a friend (same profile) of his has. When the parents found out
they talked with the teacher/counselor and they beefed up the "Be an Ally"
talk and now the victim has more tools to use AND the bullying
stopped. So the school is proactive and will help each student get
what they need. Longfellow is using "restorative justice" in some
situations (they want to expand) to help the "victim" and the "bully"
learn how to live in a multicultural, cooperative community.
We are happy with our choice and we will be sending our daughter there
in 2 years.
Happy Longfellow Family
I'm not sure about Longfellow vs. Willard; but I can speak to the
Longfellow vs. King question. My child had a hard time socially at
King, particularly in 6th grade; while her friends who went to
Longfellow had an easier time forming cohesive friendship groups. Most
of her current friends are friends who went to Longfellow, though
things are much more socially open at BHS. Academically, I would
probably choose King again, but the social ''scene'' was very rough for
a smart, shy, self-conscious child (lots of teasing about being
''smart''; though I wonder if other kids were teased about other
differences). What is unclear to me is how much of this is middle
school (friends with children in the private schools have spoken of
similar problems), how much of this was the specific school, and how
much of it was the child (who is thriving in high school).
My son is a sixth grader at Longfellow and he loves it. He had been
chronically bullied at his former (private) elementary school, so when
he told me about a kid trying to bully/intimidate him at Longfellow, it
In elementary school, the bullying increased after we asked for help;
we got no support from staff and the bully was free to continue. At
Longfellow, Principal Pat Saddler dealt with it quickly and
effectively. Within a day my son was no longer bullied and that's the
last we heard of it.
Longfellow's teachers are the best we've ever experienced. They're
devoted to helping the kids learn, and the kids know it. Kudos to all
Our 7th grader is attending Longfellow. We lived in Oakland and she
attended private schools (K-5) exclusively. The transition to a public
middle was smooth. Although she didn't know anyone at the school, she
has thrived and made friends. She is involved in the 0 period music
program and softball. We chose the school based on its size, emphasis
on music, arts and science, afterschool program (EDP) and the amazing
Parent of a Thriving 7th grader
(Editor) a review was also received for Willard
We are considering relocating to Berkeley for the schools,
and I am trying to learn more about Longfellow.
Can anyone tell me what they know about this school? We
value diversity, the arts and good solid teaching tailored
to the children above mere standardized test scores
(although I know this differs from the State's approach to
Also, does anyone know anything about how to get into this
school? I am asking because I understand you can elect this
school if you don't like the middle school in your zone, and
I want to be sure that is correct.
We are very pleased with Longfellow Middle School. Our son
will be an 8th grader in the Fall and has had outstanding
teachers so far. Longfellow is a magnet school, meaning
that you must choose the school rather than just being
assigned to your zone school. i understand there is a
lottery, as the school is small, especially compared to
King. The principal is great. The counseling staff is
fabulous. The studentbody is very diverse and there are
wonderful opportunities for the arts, especially in the
afterschool program. I highly recommend Longfellow Middle
School! Check out
Feel free to contact me if you would like to talk more.
Re: Moving to Berkeley Summer 2010 - middle schools?
... any child can attend Longfellow and Longfellow's
test scores are equal to slightly better than King, it has
the smallest achievement gap of any of the middle schools,
it has an enriched counselor program (last year 18 interns
for 420 students!!), a fantastic after school program, Jazz
Band, Orchestra, Dance, and a great principal (whose son
graduated from there last year so she really believes in her
school). Both my sons graduated from Longfellow and
are/were honor students at BHS. Don't let the campus
mislead you, Longfellow has great teaching going on inside.
a Longfellow parent alumni
I just want to echo the recommendation of Longfellow for a
middle school choice. My kid went to Longfellow and was not
an easy kid--lots of issues. But I have to say that the
teachers and counselors regularly went above and beyond the
call of duty with him. I don't have experience with the
other middle schools but can say that I was not disappointed
at all with Longfellow. I just can't say enough about the
quality of the staff there.
Another Longfellow Alum Parent
Re: Which middle school for my sons?
We are guardians of a troubled boy that came to live with us as he was
entering the 6th grade a couple of years ago. Based on the
recommendation of friends and because we knew one of the teachers
there, we had him attend Longfellow. I have never regretted it. Each
year, he has had at least a couple of teachers who have gone above and
beyond their duties as teachers to support him. They are really for
him and work hard to help him succeed. The counseling team and
administration there have also been a great support for him. We
appreciate the smaller size of the school and feel like he is known
there and not lost in the crowd. Our kid has certainly found teachers
that he struggles with, but there have always been at least a couple
who really go out of their way to connect with him. I highly
Re: The low-down on King & Willard Middle Schools
Are you considering Longfellow? It's half the size of
King, now has the best overall test scores for any BUSD middle
school, has consistently had the highest scores for Black and
Latino students, has the best after school program (70% of
students participate) including jazz and steel drum bands, art,
theatre, dance, and sports (and of course tutoring), has a very
strong Spanish language department (is the dual immersion middle
school for BUSD), and has a great principal: Pat Saddler, and
many amazing teachers (the staff gets a standing ovation during
Back to School Night every year). Since the school is close to
BHS, top 8th grade math students can easily attend BHS for Honors
Geometry and students can take an honors option for any core
class. The school values academic achievement (for example,
honors- 3.0-3.49 GPA and high honors- 3.5 and above, and straight
A students are publicly recognized every quarter as well as those
with perfect attendance). And, since its the magnet middle
school, any child in Berkeley can apply. Both of my children
have/are attended/ing Longfellow and got a great education,
teachers who care (still ask about my ''child'' that is now in
college), and had wonderful enrichment activities.
Longfellow vs. King
I am trying to find out something about the relative strengths
of the middle schools Longfellow and King. I'd really welcome some thoughts
from parents who know these schools.
I am looking for feedback on Willard and Longfellow Middle
Schools from parents of kids who are recent graduates or are
there now. My son will be in the 5th grade next fall at a local
Berkeley elementary school and we are in the Willard zone, so we
would be assigned to Willard no doubt when he moves on to Sixth
grade. I am very concerned that he will have all kinds of
problems there, and would like some info and perhaps a reality
check to see if my worst fears are justified. First, my son has
ADD, does not have good study habits and gets easily overwhelmed
in large classroom settings. I worry that a school like
Willard, combined with the fact that he is becoming a teenager,
will simply be too much. Second, we live a block from Willard
and during the day I see all kinds of goings-on by students,
including trashing neighborhood yards, skipping classes to hang
out at the local Andronicos where the kids run around until they
get thrown out by store personnel, and kids piling on other kids
as they try to walk home from school. Is this activity
representative of Willard school? How good are the teachers,
mathematics and science programs, and afterschool programs,
compared to Longfellow or the local private middle schools? Is
Longgfellow just as bad? I wish I could send him to King, which
I've heard much positive feedback about, but we are in the wrong
My daughter is a 6th grader at Longfellow and it is working out
quite well. She could have gone to King (or private for that
matter) but chose Longfellow because it is the smallest of the
middle schools (but not so small as some of the private
schools) and she was in the bilingual program in elementary
school and was able to continue it at Longfellow.
I was concerned about Longfellow until I went to an open house
and checked out classes while school was in session. I was
impressed with what I saw. There is a good principal and
teaching staff and everyone knows each other. I think they
keep an eye on all the kids and that the cohesion is good.
If you want to talk, feel free to email me.
I have a son in 7th grade at Longfellow and he has had a very
good experience there. It is the smallest of the three
schools, which was important to us and his needs. He is an
excellent student, has had good teachers who have gone out of
their way to make the curriculum challenging for him. The
Principal and Vice principal are very experienced, show lots of
leadership, work closely with parents, and make a point to get
to know each and every child. Wonderful art, music, dance and
theater programs, excellent Advanced math program. Very diverse
student population with an emphasis on having a strong school
community. Kids in general, as much as middle schoolers do,
look out for each other. Firm but fair discipline
policies,staff keep parents in the loop.
My son graduated from Longfellow and is now an honor roll
freshman at Berkeley High. Longfellow's strengths? Strong
principal and generally strong teaching staff, wonderful advanced
math and arts program, rich after school program, and the small
size means that everyone knows everyone and there is alot of
opportunitiy to shine (sports, music, dance, etc.). In my
opinion, these strengths more than compensate for the limited
campus facilities (great theatre, dance studio, and computer lab
- but no track, pool, not much open space). Yes, the
neighborhood isn't the greatest, but the campus is very secure -
student safety is a real priority. The kids run the gamut - but
involvement in any of the enrichment activities - sports, arts,
computers - really makes a difference, the involved kids provide
a good peer group and participation in these programs is actually
valued among the students/its not considered ''geeky'' - especially
the sports and arts programs.
Re: Middle Schools with a strong math/science department
Longfellow Middle School in Berkeley is an Arts and Technology
Magnet School. As at MLK, 7th graders can also take Honors
Algebra (or can wait and take Honors Algebra in 8th grade).
There are some great math teachers at the school (and Science).
In addition,the school has a strong computer program (but has
experienced some recent cuts due to the BUSD budget crisis). My
7th grader is programming and will start learning machine code
My daughter is now in 8th grade at Longfellow. The
administration was quite sloppy under the previous
principal, but the new one, Rebecca Cheung, so far seems
organized and intelligent. I don't think Longfellow always
challenges my kid enough in the academic sense, and the
recent cuts in electives--this is supposed to be an arts
and technology magnet school!--have been disheartening.
However, Margaret has managed to come through the
inevitable teasing and social stress successfully, and
acquired a great (racially mixed) group of friends, which I
suppose says something both for her and the social
atmosphere around school.
There are some very good teachers at Longfellow. Of the
ones I know, Cortez Robinson is wonderful for the student
who's worried about math; last year he helped turn Margaret
around from a C to an A, and her self-confidence soared as
a result. Some other fine, dedicated teachers: Joan
Brannigan for 7th grade English and history; Andrea Lee,
who teaches P.E. and dance and has been a good role model
of female strength and grace; Ms. Little, an 8th grade math
teacher; Suzy Loper, a fabulous science teacher; and Jessie
Luxford, 8th grade English and history. Doubtless there are
The after-school program (EDP) is run by Tina Lewis, an
excellent administrator. Along with the arts and sports
classes, the library, which is well stocked and a pleasant
place to work and read, hosts a drop-in homework center
most afternoons until 6 p.m.
Physically speaking, the newly restored main building and
the building that houses the library, science labs,
offices, and gym are pretty nice, but the so-
called ''annexe'' is quite depressing, as is the cafeteria.
(Some things don't change...)
Just as in elementary school, I recommend keeping an eye on
your kid's work and attitude. Get every teacher's phone
number and/or e-mail at back-to-school night and stay in
touch; ask questions, make suggestions, nag politely, just
like you do with your kid. This really pays off in middle
school; your child may not always like it, but better she
knows you take education seriously and are willing to put
yourself out for hers: good behavior to model, so she'll
learn to stand up for herself and work for what she wants.
Re: middle school music programs
My son is a 7th grader at Longfellow. As a 6th grader, he
was in 6th grade band that met 2/week and also had Music
Theory/Chorus that met once a week (both during the school
day). After school, he was able to join the Jazz Band
during the second semester which met 2/week after school.
As a 7th grader, he is in 7th/8th Concert Band that meets
5/week during zero period (8-8:45am.). After school, he is
in Jazz Band again 2/week and joined Steel Drum Band 2/week
after school. Ms. Davis, the Music Director is fantastic
and the Jazz Band instructors are wonderful (for example,
staying after class on their own time to work with kids
that need help learning some of the new pieces). The Steel
Drum Band is a real favorite at school and is surprisingly
good. Longfellow also has other great art programs. My son
is taking Art and Technology (drawing the first semester
and 2nd semester computer-applications such as Adobe
Illustrator) 5/week as an elective and after school takes
Comic Strip Design and Theater (also offered: Stage Craft:
set design, sound engineering, etc. African Dance, Hip Hop,
and 3-D Art). Some of these programs are grant funded and
the school so far has avoided the worst cuts (but lost
Advanced Band this year and some of the very advanced
computer courses). In general, we are very pleased with
Longfellow, are happy with our new principal and vice
principal (but still miss our former vice-principal now at
BHS), have had great teachers (there are a few not so great
teachers as in any school, including private, but so far
we've had the luck of the draw). I AM concerned about
funding in future years but Longfellow has been a great
experience so far - and LOVE the small size.
My son wants to attend Longfellows Middle School next
fall. We've visited the campus and sat in on several
classes (sixth grade). Does anyone have any ideas on
how to get the teacher of your choice?
Reply to parent wanting advice re Longfellow Middle School teacher selection:
My son went to Longfellow for 6th grade a couple of years ago. We
had visited to check out the 6th grade teachers, and then wrote a
letter to the principal requesting particular teachers. They did
assign him to the teachers he wanted, though I don't know if that was
due to our letter or just luck of the draw. It certainly didn't hurt
to write the letter.
Old reviews (1996-1998)
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